What the Hell Happened to Eddie Murphy?

eddie murphy

By this point in the “What the Hell Happened?” series, a pattern has developed.  The career usually begins with TV roles or modeling gigs.  Then a big break, super stardom and a stint on the A-list.

Sometimes the celebrity rides on the top of the a-list for years.  Other times, they come crashing down relatively quickly.  Eventually, their time in the spotlight ends.  Sometimes they flame out in a spectacularly public fashion.  Other times, they just walk away.

Eddie Murphy’s story breaks from the formula.  Sure, there is a rise and fall.  But in Murphy’s case, there’s not just one.

Murphy rose to superstardom, slipped into irrelevance, reinvented himself as a family friendly leading man, had a scandal, dropped into obscurity, and then threatened to stage a come back multiple times without ever actually coming back.

Murphy - SNL

Murphy started performing as a stand-up comedian as a teenager.  In 1980, at the age of 19, Murphy joined the cast of Saturday Night Live.  At the time, he was the youngest cast member in the history of the show.

In the early 80s, SNL was in its first real slump.  It was actually facing the possibility of cancellation.  Murphy and co-star Joe Piscopo were the sole stand-outs of the cast and arguably saved the show.  Murphy became the show’s clear star with characters like Buckwheat, Gumby and Mr. Robinson.  He also did a killer Stevie Wonder impression.

Murphy also has the distinction of being the only cast member to host the show while he was still a regular cast member.  Murphy remained on SNL until 1984.  Once he left, he never returned.  According to Murphy:

“They were shitty to me on Saturday Night Live a couple of times after I’d left the show. They said some shitty things. There was that David Spade sketch [when Spade showed a picture of Murphy around the time of Vampire in Brooklyn and said, "Look, children, a falling star"]. I made a stink about it, it became part of the folklore. What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot. It was like, “Hey, come on, man, it’s one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career? I’m one of you guys. How many people have come off this show whose careers really are fucked up, and you guys are shitting on me?” And you know every joke has to go through all the producers, and ultimately, you know Lorne or whoever says, [Lorne Michaels voice] “OK, it’s OK to make this career crack…”

 

While Murphy was still on SNL, he made his feature film debut in 1982’s 48 Hours.

I don’t think the impact of 48 Hours can be over-stated.  It wasn’t just a smash hit.  It practically invented a genre that would dominate the film landscape for the next decade.  The buddy cop movie began with Nolte and Murphy in 48 Hours.

Murphy commented on why the movie – in which Nolte’s character says some very politically incorrect racial slurs – worked:

You know why it worked then and the reason why it wouldn’t now? My significance in film – and again I’m not going to be delusional – was that I’m the first black actor to take charge in a white world onscreen. That’s why I became as popular as I became. People had never seen that before. Black-exploitation movies, even if you dealt with the Man, it was in your neighborhood, never in their world. In 48 Hours, that’s why it worked, because I’m running it, making the story go forward. If I was just chained to the steering wheel sitting there being called “watermelon,” even back then they would have been like, “This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!”

Nolte was supposed to host SNL when the movie opened.  But he partied a little too hard and had to cancel.  Instead, Murphy – still a cast member on the show – took over the hosting duties.

Murphy was already a star thanks to SNL.  But 48 Hours made him a movie star.  Murphy was nominated for a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year.  He lost to Ben Kingsley for Ghandi.

murphy - trading places

The following year, Murphy teamed with SNL alumn Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places.

Murphy played a poor conman who trades places with a rich Wall Street trader played by Aykroyd.  Jamie Lee Curtis played a hooker with a heart of gold who helps Aykroyd deal with his new status quo.

Trading Places was directed by John Landis who would work with Murphy two more times.  The rich man/poor man comedy was an even greater hit than 48 Hours.  Murphy was nominated for another Golden Globe.

Eddie Murphy - Delirious - 1983

Murphy was 2 for 2 in Hollywood and was still a star on TV.  He was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for Trading Places.  Plus he had a hit stand-up comedy special in Eddie Murphy: Delirious that same year.

Murphy’s career was hot.  He wasn’t just a rising star.  He was shooting straight to the top.

Next: Beverly Hills Cop and The Golden Child

Posted on January 31, 2012, in Movies, Saturday Night Live, TV, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 201 Comments.

  1. Looks like the new beverly hills cop film is back on track…

    http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=107117

    Like

    • As always with this kind of news, I’ll believe it when it happens.

      Like

    • I’ve been reading suggestions on this particular message board that the third “BHC” movie marked the beginning of Eddie Murphy’s career decline (I personally think that “Harlem Nights” was, but whom am I to judge):

      http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showthread.php?t=258943

      Like

      • BHC 3 signified that Murphy had crossed a line where his audience wouldn’t even follow him into familiar territory. Even Another 48 Hours did pretty well. By the time he made BHC 3, audiences stopped caring every bit as much as Murphy did.

        I’m frankly amazed he came back from that. He had one of the most remarkable comebacks of the decade.

        Like

        • Eddie Murphy (I) : When did Eddie go down hill?

          http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000552/board/flat/199027204?p=1

          by
          mcdkenny» Mon May 14 2012 07:57:34

          I have a theory that his career went down hill after he stopped doing his ‘laugh’ in films. In his yearly films he does it (Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop) but stopped doing it in films like (Norbit, Meet Dave). Might just be a coincidence and the fact that these films might have been badly written, directed and ill conceived. Just wondering if anyone agreed or had other theories.

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          ediaz8» Fri Aug 31 2012 07:45:14

          I would have to say that his career went downhill from the release of 1996’s “The Nutty Professor” onwards. I was dissapointed with 1999’s “Bowfinger” because I thought that pairing him with Steve Martin would have brought back a classic Eddie but it failed royally despite having some moderate success at the box office. Overall, every film he made after “Nutty” was mediocre. He said that he went to making kids oriented films because it was what his kids could watch. His kids are now in their late teens and hasn’t made an effort to be back to the comedy that made him famous. I liked “Tower Heist” a lot as it brought back an Eddie that was close to his 80’s form and I thought after watching it that this could be a prelude to more films like it but it hasn’t beared fruit.

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          A-zone» Thu Sep 13 2012 21:36:26

          I agree with “ediaz8″. “The Nutty Professor” and everything after it was either mediocre or plain awful. The only exception was “Dreamgirls” in which he gave a great performance, proving that he can indeed act. I think he needs to do two things to put his career back on track:

          1. Stop doing stupid “kid-family-funny” movies (which ironically are not funny nor are they liked by kids) and start doing some serious roles. Many other comedians like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey have done a variety of different roles including very dark and villainous ones. Eddie’s comedy has sadly become stale. I think he would make a great villain.
          2. Get rid of his ego. Sure he was a big star back in the 80’s and commanded an exorbitant salary but not anymore. He should stop doing movies where he is the main lead (as well as 5 other characters!) and be willing to accept smaller but meaningful roles.

          I still believe that there’s a lot of “entertainment juice” left in this machine called Eddie Murphy but he’s wasting it in the wrong roles.

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          sjmcollins-1» Tue Jan 15 2013 12:28:21

          The last great thing Eddie did was Coming To America in 1988. After that he tried (way too hard) to reinvent himself as a Don Juan romantic lead in Harlem Nights and Boomerang. Then something just seemed to die in him, and he appears to have no interest whatsoever in reviving it. It’s sad, really, because for a 8-10 year stretch he was THE man.

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          ragusa11» Sat May 4 2013 15:52:30

          The start of losing his touch was Another 48 Hours. He had a series of bad movies before he reinvented himself as a family entertainer. It happens to all comedians. Robin Williams was hot and then all of a sudden all of his movies sucked.

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          moviesrme10» Sat Jul 27 2013 07:06:56

          Eddie went down hill after The Adventures of Pluto Nash but he still kept it going steady after his first real miss. The real damage started with 2007’s Norbit, which bombed at the box office and got horrid reviews. Then we got bomb after bomb with Meet Dave, Imagine That, and the big blow was 2012’s A Thousand Words, which got 0%rating on Rotten Tomatoes, no one liked it and no one saw it, it bombed. That’s it, his career is over.

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          Volken» Fri Aug 2 2013 12:53:05

          If you remember early 90’s fashion of “intellectual posing” among many stars. Many like Sly, for example, suddenly wore glasses and insisted on the most refined presence, whenever they went public. Remember Madonna’s intellectual posing from her documentary. Sadly, this trend did not missed Eddie. He started also nobility presentations, sometimes, to such extent, that TV channels had a great fun, making them look funny while doing interviews.

          Anyone remembers the most ridiculous interview with Arsenio, where Murphy is drinking from a miniature golden glass? Holding the same just for sake of holding, because it was barely fitted for a parakee. He desperately wanted to be noble and refined, it was really embarrassing to watch.

          And yes, as much I loved watching Eddie in BH 1,2 and many great movies until Boomerang. Suddenly he was no longer hungry, and changed his signature acting. Like many others, he was too aware of himself and constantly flirting with camera. From that moment, his acting was not interesting for my taste, and hate to say, quality of his movies, never followed any originality in story or realization.

          I guess, there was a glimpse of something in Metro (1997), but, just a glimpse.

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          Thunder_Dome» Fri Aug 23 2013 12:13:19

          I’ve never seen Metro but from trailers and clips it seems like it was the last time he played a normal person (except Dreamgirls) and everything afterwards were caricatures. Look at movies like Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours/Another 48 Hours and he’s playing a normal guy that happens to be very funny.

          But ever since then he acts differently, like over-the-top gestures, etc. And yeah, him not doing the laugh anymore is just weird.

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          T-Faz» Sun Oct 20 2013 13:26:15

          When his ego went through the roof around Coming To America time. John Landis commented on the change in his personality from Beverly Hills Cop. After that, all his films become boring and lacked the charm he had showed in the early 80’s. This is until he reinvented himself as a family friendly entertainer in the mid 90’s.

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          Volken» Sun Oct 20 2013 17:27:28

          You are right about finding the second exit as family entertainment. Without it, I doubt he would path any success in box office. I’m sure Landis speaks firsthand, observing his working environment with degree of intimacy we could never learn at that time. But “Coming to America” had all ingredients to make Eddie confident performer. Starting from great cast to SNL territory where Eddie (at the time) always performed his best. Since you mention this, Yes, he was a bit different in suited “noble” remark, at the very beginning in his kingdom. But, he was still available in the rest of the movie and we didn’t suffer from this.

          Try to watch Boomerang again. There, for the very first time, I’ve asked myself : Eddie, why you changed so much?

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          T-Faz» Tue Nov 5 2013 04:55:3

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          T-Faz» Tue Nov 5 2013 04:55:35

          Boomerang isn’t a bad movie but the lead character is so unlikable. Eddie Murphy transformed into an arrogant, conceited and egotistical person by that time. The characters he played also reflected this.

          Had he remained the way he was, he could have continued to deliver great films.

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          shihab1» Mon Jan 13 2014 11:47:38

          It was over after Distinguished Gentleman. Something changed in his appearance, his acting became much more mannered( like the previous poster said, wild eyes, manic movements, phony caricatures) he seemed to lose that aura of infallible confidence that made him famous in the first place. It was his composure that made him so funny and marked him out as different; after this film it was gone.

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          I_Guard_Tanelorn» Mon Feb 3 2014 14:40:41

          The 90s and Eddie just didn’t get along. It happens, but I think he was still putting solid work out. I still think the 1st Nutty Professor is pretty damned funny. Certainly on par with any Sandler or Myers movies.

          It all started going sideways with Dr. Dolittle. There was a subtle shift in Murphy’s role in his movies where he went from making the jokes (BHC, Golden Child), to being in on the joke (Bowingfinger, I Spy), to becoming the butt of the jokes (Daddy Day Care, Norbit).

          If you wanna stay on top, you gotta be the one making the jokes.

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  2. Eddie Murphys Career Highs and Lows:

    http://www.entertainmentscene360.com/index.php/eddie-murphys-career-highs-and-lows-2870/

    In the 1980s, there was simply no stopping Eddie Murphy. As the star of Beverley Hills Cop, his fame seemed to know no bounds. He went on to star in two sequels which, although perhaps not quite so popular, still did phenomenally well at the box office. He also went on to star in other hit films such as Golden Child and Coming to America.

    Skipping forward to the end of the 1990s, however, his star began to fade. He still continued to work regularly, but the films simply didn’t command the same audiences as before. His typical slapstick style of comedy was neither as fresh as before, nor was it as original. He had the occasional return to form, such as his vocal performance as the donkey in Shrek, but that wasn’t enough. There were plenty of new faces waiting in the wings and they were attracting a new generation of fans who didn’t really rate Murphy.

    Personal problems also made people see him in a different light. He divorced from wife Nicole in 2006 and shortly afterwards showed a rather unpleasant side to his personality following a relationship with former Spice Girl Mel B. When she discovered she was pregnant, Murphy denied outright that he was the father and refused to pay for child support, until Mel B was forced to organised a paternity test to prove her daughter was his. The test proved that he was, after all, the father.

    Now in 2012, it is perhaps no surprise that Murphy has just been named as the most overpaid actor in Hollywood by Forbes magazine. According to their figures, for every dollar that Murphy made in the box office, he only made back $2.30. However, compared with Drew Barrymore, who made back just 40 cents for every dollar she earned in 2011, Murphy’s figure is actually quite respectable. Barrymore apparently doesn’t qualify for this year’s list because she hasn’t had starring roles in three ‘wide-released films’ over the last three years, probably due to her family commitments.

    There are a few other big names just behind Murphy in the Forbes list. At number two was Katherine Heigl, who made back $3.40 for every dollar she earns, based on a couple of recent films that didn’t really register on the box office radar. Reese Witherspoon is surprisingly at number three, having made back just $3.90. Like Barrymore, she has recently had a baby and may well be back in the financial limelight in due course.

    When it comes to Eddie Murphy, however, the future doesn’t look too bright. 2011’s Tower Heist was supposed to be his return to the big-time, but although critically-acclaimed, it didn’t do that well at the box office. Something special will need to be in the pipeline to turn his career around.

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    • The 7 Most Overpaid Actors:

      http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/the-7-most-overpaid-movie-actors/

      #4 Eddie Murphy

      Eddie Murphy has evolved his career brilliantly. After bursting into the national spotlight during his short-lived SNL career, Eddie quickly became the go-to black comedian of the 80′s. As he got older, he began focusing on family comedies with films like The Nutty Professor and Dr. Dolittle. Again, like a normal-sized black Napoleon, Eddie completely conquered the landscape in front of him.

      However, as Eddie’s fan-base gets older, they don’t recognize their beloved Eddie Murphy anymore. Recent films like Meet Dave and Imagine That (which seemed like a remake of Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories, which came out only a year earlier) have been major box office disappointments. The Adventures of Pluto Nash is the biggest summer blockbuster flop of all-time. On average for every $1 Eddie has earned, his movies brought in $4.43 so like Billy Bob, Murphy earns nearly a quarter of his films’ total gross earnings.

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    • The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made:

      http://flavorwire.com/477608/the-50-worst-movies-ever-made/28

      1. Norbit

      The poor timing of this excruciating mix of fatty-fall-down jokes and deliriously minstrel-show-esque stereotypes may well have cost Eddie Murpy his Dreamgirls Oscar — which isn’t exactly fair, but it certainly seems like justice. For it’s not just a poorly made movie, but a loathsome and distasteful one to boot, consisting of a single joke, told over and over and over and over and over again, that wasn’t funny the first time. The joke is that fat people are physically repulsive, disgusting creatures. It’s mean, angry, vile, and misogynistic, and some of that might be forgivable if Norbit were funny. It isn’t. There is, no exaggeration, not one laugh to be found in it. It marked Eddie Murphy’s creative nadir (which is saying something), and if we’re lucky, it’s the worst film he’ll ever make. I shudder to imagine one that’s worse.

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  3. Showtime (2002):

    http://officialfan.proboards.com/thread/488692/showtime-2002

    I watched this film recently and I have to say it wasn’t bad at all. Good under-appreciated comedy with Eddie Murphy and Robert DeNiro.

    Like

  4. 10 Huge Hollywood Actors We All Loved (But Now Hate):

    http://whatculture.com/film/10-huge-hollywood-actors-loved-now-hate.php/5

    7. Eddie Murphy

    We Love You Moment: Beverley Hills Cop (1984)

    It’s seems like a long time since Eddie Murphy was the most popular star and biggest box office attraction on the planet but that’s exactly what he was in the eighties. After making his film debut with 48 Hrs. a revelation was born and he followed that with the excellent Trading Places and then the film that would make him an international star; Beverley Hills Cop.

    By the time Another 48 Hrs. (1990) hit cinemas he had hit after hit with a (good) sequel to Beverley Hills Cop, The Golden Child, Coming To America and RAW, the highest grossing stand-up film ever released at the time. His natural charisma, talent and incredibly foul yet funny mouth made him the biggest and most loved star on the planet.

    We Want A Divorce Moment: Beverley Hills Cop III (1994)

    No actor has suffered such an incredible drop off in quality like Edward Reagan Murphy and it all started with the castration of his most famous character in Beverley Hills Cop III. The success of Shrek and Nutty Professor are merely blips on an otherwise downward trajectory that features such abominations to entertainment as Vampire In Brooklyn, Life, Holy Man, Showtime, Pluto Nash, I-Spy, The Haunted Mansion. Norbit, Meet Dave and Imagine That.

    The worst part? A young Eddie Murphy would be ashamed of his older self. Try watching the brilliant RAW now and not cringing when he mocks Bill Cosby pleading with him not to use cuss words anymore. Often imitated but never bettered when it came to cussing, it’s a real shame his balls dropped off when he got old. Back in the day he could have always counted on the female vote too but since challenging the paternity of Mel B’s child he’s lost that as well. D’oh.

    Chances Of Getting Back Together: Regretfully none. The shine has well and truly come off this former golden child.

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    • REALLY RUBBISH: Beverly Hills Cop III (1994):

      http://mumbyatthemovies.blogspot.com/2013/09/really-rubbish-beverly-hills-cop-iii.html

      Posted on 01:33 by Daniel Mumby

      Beverly Hills Cop III (USA, 1994)
      Directed by John Landis
      Starring Eddie Murphy, Timothy Carhart, Judge Reinhold, Héctor Elizondo

      I’ve spoken at grat length in my film reviews about the disappointing nature of threequels. Most of the time the disappointment comes from the first film or two films being really good and the third one falling short – but with Beverly Hills Cop the bar wasn’t all that high to begin with. Nonetheless, Beverly Hills Cop III is the weakest instalment in the trilogy, with both John Landis and Eddie Murphy on autopilot and neither really wanting to be there.

      As a film enthusiast, you’re always looking to find the best in any given film. If a film is not great, you praise the bits that are good. If none of it is good, you argue that it’s not memorably bad. If it is memorably bad, you put the case that it’s so-bad-it’s-good. And if it’s offensively terrible (or terribly offensive), you try and argue that such offense could have some perverse cultural value. From this point of view the hardest films to defend – and the hardest to review – are those which are bad in a boring way, and Beverly Hills Cop III is a very bad, very boring film.

      Considering how much I have criticised Simpson and Bruckheimer, it is ironic that the emptiest film in the series should be the one in which they had the least involvement. The high-concept duo left the project in the late-1980s, feeling that the story (as it was then) was too similar to that of Ridley Scott’s thriller Black Rain. By the time Steven E. de Souza came on board, the film was being pitched as “Die Hard in a theme park”, which was itself watered down as the budget was cut and Joel Silver jumped ship. The inertia that dogged the film’s production is all too evident on screen, with both director and cast having a load of props but no idea how or why they should use them.

      You could make the observation at this point that the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy is one of progressive narrative disengagement. The first film had good potential in its plot and a decent comic conceit, but it never really made the most of either and came out a little undercooked. BHC II rehashed the plot but gave even less credit to the audience’s intelligence, resulting in a film that was flashy, asinine and dull. BHC III is arguably the most cynical, since there is no effort put into any part of its creative vision: it just sits there unwanted for 100 minutes, boring and depressing us, and then it’s gone.

      Despite its incredibly cynical nature, however, it’s very hard to get angry at BHC III. You want to summon up a ball of rage against it, denounce the system that produced it, or John Landis for directing it, or Eddie Murphy was thinking it was a good script. But there is nothing in the film that could produce such a reaction, no matter how hard we try. Even with the re-emergence of Serge, one of the most annoying and offensive aspects of the first film, this is ultimately too boring and goofy to induce anger.

      There are many bad films that induce anger because they squander great potential – The Millionairess and Atlantis being prime examples. But BHC III has very little potential to start with, and so when that potential isn’t fulfilled upon, it almost plays to our expectations. Both Murphy and Landis’ reputations for quality had taken hits by this juncture, leading us to revise our expectations downwards and hope for something serviceable. When we don’t even get that, the stakes are too low to generate anything more than a mild twinge of disappointment.

      Putting aside the lengthy production problems, much of the failure of BHC III can be blamed on Eddie Murphy. Landis took the gig knowing that the script wasn’t any good, on the grounds that Martin Brest had got around the same problem by letting Murphy improvise. But when Landis tried to feed Murphy shtick or give him room to move, Murphy refused to say the lines or do anything funny. If Bronson Pinchot is to be believed, Murphy was very jealous of the success enjoyed by Wesley Snipes and Denzel Washington in straight roles, and tried to steer away from anything that made Axel Foley a “wiseass” (i.e. pretty much everything). Some of Pinchot’s longer scenes were shot with just Landis, which might explain why so many of the jokes fall flat.

      Because Murphy is so unwilling to play ball, all of the moments in BHC III that could have been funny take on an odd and awkward feeling. The lengthy final set-piece on the Wonderworld rides feels like it was originally written as a big comic finale – perhaps along the lines of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, where every aspect of a building is used to source a joke or generate tension. But with Murphy missing all his cues, the other actors seem unsure of how to play the scenes, and the film increasingly feels like a comedy which is trying to escape itself.

      Throughout the film there are little glimpses of Landis’ comedic pedigree, but all these moments are so out of context that they almost feel like a pastiche. There’s an early musical number, with the car-jackers dancing around to Diana Ross and the Supremes, but that’s surrounded by attempts at serious build-up, including the killing-off of Foley’s boss. The disintegration of Murphy’s car in the ensuing chase might have worked in The Blues Brothers (or the Pink Panther series), but here it feels bizarre and unnecessary. The film continually fails at comedy, either by pulling up short of its punch lines or having no sense of timing.

      At the very least, you would expect Landis to have made more of the theme park setting. Even if the physical or situational comedy fell flat, you could argue that there would be some value in a comedy which tried to poke fun at the corporate paranoia of Disney and the like. But as with its big set-pieces, the more dialogue-driven scenes are void of ambition; the satire is bald if not completely non-existent, and there are episodes of Scooby Doo with greater tension as to the identity of the villain.

      The only other characteristic of BHC III that is becoming of Landis is the abundance of cameos. In my review of Burke & Hare, I praised Landis for his restraint in this regard, only bringing people in for a good knowing laugh – whether it’s Jenny Agutter playing a hammy actress, or Michael Winner going off a cliff in a stagecoach. His use of cameos here is far more akin to Into The Night, with a host of famous film faces turning up for little to no good reason. The most obvious and awkward of these is George Lucas, whom Murphy forces off the ferris wheel just before he saves the children.

      This brings us on nicely (or rather not) to the issue of exploitation. Not only is the film’s satire of the Disney culture incredibly bald, but it often falls into the opposite trap and becomes as blatantly manipulative as the theme parks itself. The entire action scene involving Murphy saving the children is a shameless attempt to engender empathy with his character – empathy that is never justified at any other point before or after. Likewise Theresa Randle’s character gets nothing to do except be put in situations where Axel can save her or hit on her. While she’s by no means the worst example of a damsel in distress in fiction, it’s still a very cheap trick.

      The performances in BHC III are all immensely lacklustre. Murphy sets the tone, looking either bored or frustrated and giving the distinct impression that he has fallen out of love with the character. Judge Reinhold is largely phoning it in, making very little of Billy’s new powers and having no-one to bounce off (both Ronny Cox and John Ashton declined to appear). Timothy Carhart makes the very least of his villain, hitting most of the beats he needs to but not leaving any lasting impression. Even Alan Young, most famous for voicing Scrooge McDuck in DuckTales, doesn’t particularly register: he does the minimum that is required, and then leaves as soon as he can.

      Beverly Hills Cop III is a boring and depressing end to a franchise that barely got off the ground in the first place. With both its star and director working against their strengths and no effort being expended on the script, the film trudges and slumps from one failed joke to the next before eventually collapsing in a sorry heap. Ultimately it’s too boring to get too angry about, but it remains a low point in the careers of all involved.

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  5. Since now directors have started to get their own WTHHT articles, I wonder if Eddie Murphy’s “Trading Places”, “Coming to America”, and “Beverly Hills Cop III” director John Landis deserves one? The irony regarding Landis is the whole tragedy involving Vic Marrow’s death during the making of “The Twilight Zone” movie didn’t seem to completely ruin Landis’ career as an A-list director, but once he entered the ’90s w/ flicks like BHC3″ and “Blues Brothers 2000″, that really did him in.

    http://www.avmaniacs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46334&page=15

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    • And since we’re on the subject of Eddie Murphy’s old directors, I also wouldn’t mind seeing Eddie’s “Beverly Hills Cop” (the first one) director Martin Brest get a WTHHT. It seems like the horrible response that “Gigli” received caused Brest to pretty much give up film-making all together.

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    • I would count John Landis among my favorite comedy directors. Just look at his output from 1978 to 1988: Animal House in 1978, The Blues Brothers in 1980, An American Werewolf In London in 1981, Trading Places in 1983, Three Amigos in 1986 and Coming To America in 1988. There’s some great movies in there. Say what you will but Landis had a tremendous 10 years as a filmmaker.

      Like

      • Yeah he did have a good run. Unfortunately that run ended the minute the 80s were over. Like many directors he had a lot of success for a period, then once that ended he more or less became a journeyman.

        Like

        • I don’t think he was ever the same after the Twilight Zone disaster and trial. Coming to America came after that, but aside from that movie which was largely carried by Murphy, Landis’ best days were behind him.

          I always wonder how talented he really was vs. lucky to be working with such immense comedic talents.

          I will give him credit for chasing Chevy Chase away from Animal House. Had it turned into SNL the Movie as intended, it would not have been nearly as good. I also give him credit for reading Dan Aykroyd’s script for Blues Brothers and saying “Dan, we can’t possibly do this.”

          I think American Werewolf shows Landis’ talent the best. But even that movie has some very lethargic pacing. And then it just kind of ends.

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          • And let’s not forget Landis also directed the music video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 1983! I almost never mention director’s work when it comes to music videos, but Thriller is one of the most iconic music videos of all time, it’s such a classic, great video that it deserves a mention for Landis.

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  6. Has Any Comedic Actor Ever Come Close to 1980s Eddie Murphy?

    http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showpost.php?p=4813317&postcount=1

    From 1982 to 1989, Eddie Murphy starred in 9 films. Three of these films (Best Defense, Beverly Hills Cop II, and Harlem Nights) are either completely forgettable, terribly mediocre, or both. However, let’s take a look at his other six films:

    1) 48 Hours: Borderline classic comedy.

    2) Trading Places: BIG TIME classic comedy.

    3) Beverly Hills Cop: BIG TIME classic comedy.

    4) The Golden Child: Originally a flop, but now a cult classic.

    5) Eddie Murphy Raw: One of the greatest stand-up films ever made.

    6) Coming To America: BIG TIME classic comedy.

    Not only have most of these films stood the test of time, but I am now hard pressed to think of any other comedian who had an equally stellar streak in their career. Only three other comedians come to mind that one could make an argument for: Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, and Will Ferrell.

    Like

  7. 10 Actors Who Need To Stop Flogging A Dead Horse:

    http://whatculture.com/film/10-actors-need-stop-flogging-dead-horse.php/11

    1. Eddie Murphy

    Done To Death: Beverly Hills Cop (and playing multiple roles in the same movie).

    There was a time when Eddie Murphy was the most hilarious thing in Hollywood: he was handsome, fast-talking, and above all he was a pretty good actor, killing it on Saturday Night Live for four straight years. And by the time he was cast in his first leading role in Beverly Hills Cop in 1984 he was a force to be reckoned with in the world of big-budget comedy.

    Then, in the mid-’90s, Murphy’s roles became increasingly ridiculous. In the wake of Beverly Hills Cop III came Vampire In Brooklyn, which replicated the gimmick of Murphy’s earlier film Coming To America, in which he played multiple characters at the same time, but failed laughably. His next film was The Nutty Professor, which was built entirely around that gimmick, and movies like Norbit kept right on going without any self-awareness.

    With Triplets upcoming, it’s recently been announced that Murphy is going back to Beverly Hills Cop to reinvigorate another old comedy franchise, and it’s hard not to think that Murphy isn’t even the best man for his own old job. After more than a decade of no success, it would be far better to see Axel Foley rebooted, rather than him hanging on to an old success story, and it’s hard to see the film working, unless someone like Shane Black is brought in.

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    • Mother Brain’s Top 10 Unproduced Movie Sequels:

      http://cosblog.cosmelentertainment.com/2012/05/29/mother-brains-top-10-unproduced-movie-sequels/

      1. Beverly Hills Cop 4

      Contrary to popular belief, the 4th adventure of Eddie Murphy’s hip cop from Detroit, Axel Foley, was initially planned after the release of Beverly Hills Cop II when producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer considered an idea to shoot the 3rd and 4th films back to back overseas in Europe and Asia. Eddie’s falling track record, however, killed that idea which resulted in the half-assed Beverly Hills Cop III in 1994. Determined to bring life back into the franchise, Eddie sought after numerous writers to come up with a new premise to return back to the fish out of water roots of Cop I. From the mid 90s and on, screenwriters such as John Ridley (Red Tails) and Dan Gordon (The Hurricane) wrote drafts in which Axel battled terrorists in London and Paris. But the closest it came into production was in 2008 when Brett Ratner was hired to direct a screenplay by Wanted screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. The premise involved Axel returning to Beverly Hills to avenge the murder of series favorite Billy Rosewood at the hands of dirty cops while gaining a new young cop sidekick intended for Jonah Hill to play. Fans lashed out on the internet over the decision to deep six the supporting characters and Paramount lost faith in Eddie after a string of more family movie failures. Now there’s talk of a TV series about Axel’s son.

      Like

  8. I love Eddie Murphy movies, I wish he would make some more. He makes me laugh so hard, what a wonderful actor, all the different parts, and so believeable too.
    Come back Eddie!

    Like

  9. 12 Actors Who Basically Guarantee You Make A Flop:

    http://whatculture.com/film/12-actors-basically-guarantee-make-flop.php/6

    1. Eddie Murphy

    Few entries on this list make us as sad as Eddie Murphy, a tremendously talented comedian who simply stopped putting any effort in around the year 2000, and though audiences stuck with him for a while, his luck eventually ran out.

    In his defense, Murphy’s commitment to voice-over and ensemble work has netted him a few hits over the last decade, such as three Shrek movies, Tower Heist and Dreamgirls (which even netted him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor), though only a single movie sold on his name alone actually made any money, and that’s the terrible Norbit.

    This appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, because all three of Murphy’s starring projects that followed, Meet Dave, Imagine That and A Thousand Words, flopped spectacularly. If we go back a little further, of course, Murphy also starred in 2002′s The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which became one of the biggest box office bombs in cinematic history, and who can forget the massive box office failure that was Holy Man? Still, Murphy has pretty much been lucky enough throughout his career to balance his flops with a few major hits, even if nowadays that mostly means using his voice or appearing within a large cast.

    Why Is He A Flop? It appears that even casual viewers who sunk their money into Norbit have grown fed up of Murphy’s boisterous shtick, because he’s not appeared in a movie for two years since A Thousand Words flopped, hopefully signalling a career re-think on his part.

    With Beverly Hills Cop 4 and Triplets (a sequel to the movie Twins) on the way, perhaps it’s time for Murphy’s comeback, though the question remains: will audiences be interested in watching Murphy front and center anymore? Essentially, Murphy isn’t entirely uncastable, but it looks as though his time as a leading man might be over.

    Like

  10. iam a big fan of your work but rob i think with the triplets sequel he is big need for a comeback

    Like

    • If so, that’s a sorry state for his career to be in.

      Honestly, I don’t think anything will bring Murphy back in a big way. Not even reviving Beverly Hills Cop. I just don’t think the guy wants to be famous any more.

      Like

  11. his problem is most a good portion of his career he went the kid friendly route he needs go to his roots and have make adult comedies like he use to

    Like

    • I’m not going to totally fault Eddie in wanting to do more kid friendly or family friendly movies. I mean I’m sure that Eddie was at a much different perspective in his life when he made stuff like “Daddy Day Care” and “The Hunted Mansion” (when he was in his 40s) than when he was making “48 HRs” and “Beverly Hills Cop” (when he was in his early 20s). I mean, should we have criticized Robin Williams for occasionally doing a more family friendly movie like “RV” for example?

      With that being said, I think the problem wasn’t necessarily so much in Eddie wanting to do those types of movies period, as much as perhaps they didn’t really maximize his talents. They seemed more like quick paydays instead of something that he was truly passionate about. It seemed like in stuff like “Daddy Day Care”, “Dr. Doolittle”, “Imagine That”, and “The Hunted Mansion”, Eddie was more or less, playing the straight man (either to little, rambunctious kids, talking animals, or special effects). In effect, instead of making jokes, Eddie sort of became the butt of them. Eddie was practically so stripped of whatever made him interesting as an onscreen persona that you could’ve just about put anybody in those types of movies and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

      Like

  12. The Mt. Rushmore of Stand up comics…:

    http://officialfan.proboards.com/thread/506003/mt-rushmore-stand-comics?page=2

    Post by DrBackflipsHoffman on 20 hours ago
    Eddie Murphy doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near a Mt. Rushmore of stand up comedy, sorry. He was a fine comic actor for a while, but his stand up material just doesn’t cut it. Small parts of Delirious are harmless juvenile bulls*** like the BBQ routine and the stuff about James Brown and Stevie Wonder, but given you’d be putting what’s available from Murphy up against the material people like Pryor, Carlin, Hicks, Bruce and Cosby have, it’s a no contest. You’d be better off giving Police Academy 4 a place before Murphy.

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  13. he does deserve it turning down pryor biopic was dumb oscar written all over it

    Like

  14. i dont think its right to compare his career to stallone as good as stalone his body of work cannot touch eddies eddies movies gross more hes still seen as more as a box office draw out side 3 franchises stallone has no classics eddie has a ton plus dreamgirls proved eddie has chops stallone has some too but not like eddie

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  15. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3589140/board/thread/233444177 i smell oscar gold eddie will play miles davis it will be his best performance since dreamgirls

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  16. eddie should do drama this miles davis biopic right direction he does drama better then jim carrey dream girls amazing

    Like

  17. Great write-up of Eddie Murphy, but one important correction: the article begins “At 17, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live”. This is incorrect. Eddie was born April 3, 1961, and his first appearance on SNL was in November, 1980, which would’ve made him 19 on his SNL debut. Otherwise, great write-up as always.

    On a sidenote, at 19 I think Eddie Murphy is still the second-youngest SNL cast member ever, behind only Anthony Michael Hall who was 17 when he joined. When I watch old clips of Eddie’s days on SNL, or I watch 48 Hrs. or Delirious or Trading Places or Beverly Hills Cop, it’s hard to believe that he was only in his late teens/early 20’s during that time.

    Like

    • I hope I didn’t offend you by calling out Eddie’s age mistake, Lebeau.

      Like

      • Oh hell no. Don’t worry about that at all. I meant to respond to that comment with a “thank you” but got caught up in recording a podcast instead.

        The main reason there hasn’t been a new WTHH article in a while is that I have been going back and cleaning up the existing ones for the last couple of months. It’s been a massive under-taking. I’m working backwards and I just got through Jennifer Jason Leigh. So I’ll be working on the Eddie Murphy article real soon. When I do, I intend to incorporate the correction.

        I read the Murphy was 17 info somewhere on line when I originally wrote the article. But you know how reliable the internet can be. I did verify that your info is correct. And I value accuracy over my ego every time. So I am always grateful and never upset when someone corrects me.

        So thanks again. Totally cool.

        Like

        • Great, thanks! The only other item in Murphy’s article I think is worth amending would be the Beverly Hills Cop tv pilot that never happened. When the article was written a couple years ago it was still in development, but later CBS passed. It’s one of those rare fascinating cancelled pilots, supposedly Eddie Murphy was actually great in the pilot but since he was only willing to do a couple episodes a season and have Axel Foley’s son carry the show, CBS decided not to go ahead with it. A shame it never aired. But there seems to be a silver lining. Eddie apparently impressed enough in the pilot that Paramount now is going ahead with Beverly Hills Cop 4, scheduled for March 2016. So long as they still use Axel Foley’s theme (a must!), I’m in.

          Like

          • Absolutely. I will make sure to hit that as well. Feel free to point out any incorrect or outdated info you may see in ANY of the articles. I’ll never be offended. Promise!

            Like

          • BHC 4? I’m in too!
            Also, Craig, this does underscore yet again, just how Leb is in my mind, a gold standard among bloggers. After having gotten into the blogging world a bit late, due to my advanced age from a time when we had NONEOFTHIS, it took me a while to adjust. Some forums, where I helpfully offered corrections, well, let’s just say… were… NOT APPRECIATED in so many words. so I learned to take a step back and keep those suggestions to myself. At Leblog, suggested corrections are actually taken in the spirit intended… just one of the many reasons this is one of the better blogs around.
            OK Back to reading about football
            RB out :)

            Like

            • Exactly right RB, that’s sort of why I tip-toed around and apologized for bringing up the mistake about Eddie’s age in joining SNL, worried I might offend. Lebeau is the gold standard for me, too. Keep up the great work, Lebeau!

              On a side note about Beverly Hills Cop 4, it is winding up with a very interesting past. It was in development almost a decade ago, but Paramount eventually passed, and while I’m merely speculating maybe it was because Eddie’s star has faded in recent years. So BHC4 instead goes into development as a tv series, with Axel Foley’s son becoming the focus as an up-and-coming cop with Eddie intended to make occasional appearances throughout the series as the Chief of Police in Beverly Hills. Word is Eddie was great, but since he would only do a couple episodes a season CBS passes. But, Eddie apparently knocked it out of the park with his performance in the filmed tv pilot, so much so that Paramount reconsiders letting Eddie Murphy do a theatrical Beverly Hills Cop again, and is currently planned for a March 2016 release. BHC4 never would happen at this point save for the fact that Eddie apparently impressed the higher ups with his performance in the tv pilot. As I said, a very interesting past. I just wish they would toss that failed pilot on Youtube or something, Eddie must have been really good to make Paramount reconsider doing a theatrical Beverly Hills Cop movie.

              Like

              • Craig, no worries. I’m a tough guy to offend. Your feedback is always welcome. I know it is always constructive.

                I’m getting closer and closer to the Eddie article. (Reworking Travolta today.) When I do update this one, I’ll incorporate all of this helpful BHC4 info.

                Like

            • I believe it is a strength to know one’s limitations. Yes, I am fallible. I aspire not to be, but sadly I have yet to get anywhere near that goal. So when someone points out a mis-step, I am appreciative. It gives me a chance to correct the error before someone else sees it. That helps me make a better impression on new readers which helps me grow the site. All good things. And all I have to do is swallow my pride a bit and admit that sometimes I make mistakes. I can deal with that.

              I do draw the line at trolling. We were visited by a troll the other day who opened the conversation by stating that the article she had read was a waste of time and filled with fluff rather than the information she was looking for. Daffy helpfully highlighted the section of the article that addressed her concerns, but she was not satisfied. If you’re going to be rude, I’m going to pull out the snark to keep you in line.

              I also get a little irritated when people presume to tell me the criteria for the WTHH series. It’s my series. I make up the criteria. If I say someone qualifies, they qualify. We can debate just about anything else. You think someone is still A-list? Fine, we can talk about that. You think someone never was A-list? That’s open for debate. Just keep it civil. But don’t tell me the rules of the series I created. After 4 years, that is one argument I’m sick of having.

              You guys have established yourselves as sensible participants in the conversation here. So even if you said something that was a little off, I’d give you the benefit of the doubt. So no worries. Keep the feedback coming.

              Like

  18. his film debut was a box office doing that give any actor an ego acheiving success that age he was 20 when it was a hit. Morgan freeman had his big break at 50 street smart (unless u could electric company) he said it was good he hit his big break cause his younger self couldnt handle the fame

    Like

  19. If there were one former SNL cast member I would most love to see return to host, it would be Eddie Murphy. After leaving SNL he returned only one time in late 84 to promote Beverly Hills Cop, and he absolutely killed. Unfortunately since then he has refused to do any retrospective tv shows or books over the years, and honestly getting Eddie back to host again would probably take nothing less than a miracle, but I for one would love to see him return. Since this is the 40th anniversary of SNL I’ve noticed that they have been bringing back many of its former cast members this year (Sarah Silverman and Bill Hader recently hosted, and Chris Rock is confirmed for a future episode), so this would be a good time for Lorne to attempt to lure him back. Unlikely, sure, but hey, stranger things have happened….

    Like

    • I don’t think Murphy can be lured. They would LOOOOOOOVE to have him. I just added a bit to the article about the source of Murphy’s bad blood with the show.

      Like

      • That is a really interesting quote, one I had not heard from Murphy before. I do remember David Spade making that joke about Murphy’s career in the early 90’s, I didn’t know that created the bad blood between him and SNL. He does draw an interesting distinction though, it’s ok to make fun of one of his movies, but not his career. Because I’m one of you guys! That certainly draws a line for him. If Lorne Michaels called him and offered a sincere apology and then asked him to host again, then who knows what could happen, it’s not mission impossible, its more like mission improbable. But Murphy would definately be my #1 pick for return hosts.

        Like

      • A Brief History of Eddie Murphy Hating ‘SNL':

        http://news.moviefone.com/2011/10/05/a-brief-history-of-eddie-murphy-hating-snl/

        Rumors are swirling that Eddie Murphy may make a surprise appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend when his ‘Tower Heist’ co-star Ben Stiller hosts. This will probably not happen. Eddie Murphy absolutely hates ‘Saturday Night Live’ and has not appeared on the show that made him a star since he hosted back on Dec. 15, 1984. Not only has Murphy never attended the various ‘SNL’ anniversary shows, but he was also one of only to living cast members (along with Dennis Miller) to refuse to talk with Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller for the excellent book ‘Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live.’ Just in case Murphy does appear this weekend, however, perhaps it’s time to take a look back at the history of Eddie Murphy hating ‘Saturday Night Live.’

        1980

        Murphy’s tenure at ‘SNL’ started auspiciously enough. Lorne Michaels, after five years, had left the show along with the entire cast. Jean Doumanian was tapped as Michaels’s replacement as executive producer — a job she would not hold for long, as she oversaw what’s regarded as the worst season the show has ever seen — and set out to hire a brand new cast.

        Fortunately for Doumanian, a young talent named Eddie Murphy would fall in her lap from pretty much out of nowhere. Unfortunately for Doumanian, she passed on Murphy and instead cast Robert Townsend as “the black guy on the show,” as talent coordinator Neil Levy quotes her in ‘Live from New York.’ Levy goes on to say that he had to threaten to quit in order to get Murphy hired. Which he eventually did — as a featured player. So, yes: a cast that saw the likes of Robin Duke, Ann Riley and Denny Dillon as full-time members would only include Murphy as a featured player.

        1981

        After Doumanian was fired, Dick Ebersol took over executive producer duties at ‘SNL.’ Ebersol realized immediately that the show had a star languishing in the background and immediately put Murphy front and center. During a season that ‘SNL’ was almost canceled, Murphy put the show on his back. It could be argued that Murphy is the reason that ‘SNL’ still lives on today. (Hold this thought.)

        1982

        On Dec. 11, Murphy hosted ‘SNL’ for the first time. He was already such a star at this point that when Nick Nolte was too sick to host, Murphy — who was still a cast member — took over the hosting duties.

        1983

        After the success of ’48 Hours,’ Murphy was a bona fide movie star. In an unprecedented move — one that would never happen under a Lorne Michaels led show — Ebersol offered Murphy a contract that only required the star of the show to appear live on 10 of the 20 shows. Also an unprecedented move: Murphy was allowed to pre-tape segments that would later run on the live show.

        1984

        Murphy’s last show as a cast member was on Feb. 25, 1984. The host was journalist Edwin Newman.

        On Dec. 15, 1984, Murphy would return one last time, as host, during Ebersol’s last season (nicknamed “The Steinbrenner Season” for all of the already known talent that was hired such as Billy Crystal and Martin Short). It was on this show that “White Like Me,” one of the most iconic sketches in the history of ‘SNL,’ would air. This was the last time Murphy ever appeared on ‘SNL’ in any capacity. Murphy never worked under either of Lorne Michaels’s regimes.

        The Hollywood Minute Incident

        David Spade, hosting an early ’90s ‘SNL’ segment during “Weekend Update” called “Hollywood Minute,” quipped, “Look children, a falling star,” as Eddie Murphy’s picture was displayed in the background. Murphy, who is the only reason that ‘SNL’ didn’t find itself canceled during the early 1980s, was furious.

        In a 1997 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Spade said, “Chris Rock told me, ‘Spade, Eddie’s got his biggest movie in 10 years, a beautiful wife, and he still can’t shake the fact that you took a swipe at him.'”

        1999

        Eddie Murphy is the only major alumnus who does not attend the ‘SNL’ primetime 25th anniversary show.

        2002

        Eddie Murphy and Dennis Miller are the only cast members who refuse to participate in ‘Live From New York.’

        2011

        Murphy co-stars in ‘Tower Heist,’ a film that could be his first “edgy” comedic role in arguabl, 20 years. His co-star, Ben Stiller, is the host of ‘SNL’ this weekend — promoting a film that not only co-stars Murphy, but is directed by Murphy’s friend, Brett Ratner. Not only that, Murphy desperately needs a live-action hit — something that could be helped by the buzz created by a much overdue return to ‘SNL.’ Whether that actually happens, remains to be seen.

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  20. A follow up on Eddie’s comment. According to David Spade in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 1997, he was asked if Eddie was still furious at him: “Chris Rock told me, ‘Spade, Eddie’s got his biggest movie in 10 years, a beautiful wife, and he still can’t shake the fact that you took a swipe at him”. And this was years after Spade made his insult about Murphy, so yeah it sounds like he holds a grudge about that. Thank a lot, Spade! You ruined my chances of ever seeing Eddie host SNL again because of your stupid joke!

    Like

  21. the biopic of miles davis look good dreamgirls proved he can do drama

    Like

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